How often do you ask students to apply the math they know to problems that might arise in life, society, and the workplace? Because we spend so much of our time in math class “drilling and killing,” working problem after problem to ensure mastery of fundamental algorithms and formulas, this is often left to the wayside.
However, modeling with mathematics is the fourth standard of practice presented in the Common Core math standards. And it’s yet another example of how the Common Core can push us to go deeper with our math teaching—in ways that greatly benefit our students.
Here are three things to consider when thinking about mathematical modeling.
1. Give it context.
When planning to teach math concepts, think about the applications of the work. Yes, students need to develop skills and fluency, but in order for them to deeply understand the mathematics, teachers must find ways to put math into context. Spend less time with repetitive problems and more time on problems with real scenarios.
Recently, I have been spending quality time with the Common Core Standards. My current obsessions are text complexity, close reading, and the speaking and listening standards. Starting at first grade, students are expected to know and be able to do the following during small- and whole-group discussions: follow participation rules, build on others’ comments, and ask clarifying questions.
Many teachers rely on Turn and Talks or Think-Pair-Shares. These are great methods, but how can you build on them to prepare students for the demands of more complicated conversations?
When I first began teaching, the arts were part of elementary school students’ daily curriculum. Tight budgets, high stakes testing, and a heavy focus on literacy, science, and math have brought an end to that. These days, teachers tend to incorporate the arts around the holidays or when there is “extra time.”
But the abandoned arts can help students to master Common Core standards: enhancing creativity, increasing self-confidence, promoting collaboration, and offering alternative way to assess learning.
Here are a few simple ways I integrate the arts in my classroom:
Read Jane’s Ideas
I often get emails from our members with very thoughtful questions. And then I think exactly what I hear myself saying in class, “if you’re asking the question, then there are others who must be wondering too.” Such was the day I read this question from teacher, Jill S.
Good evening, Sarah.
I have been following you on Teaching Channel and am so delighted that I have found you! I am also a floater teacher. I change classes with the students. In my opinion, it is hard to have proper classroom procedures without a classroom. Classroom management is harder since I do walk in the door at the same time as my students. There is not really a “spot” where the students can turn in their work, get supplies etc. In addition, it is hard for me to do strategic teaching since I am unable to set up the classroom in a manner that suits me. … My question to you is how can I be effective without the bells and whistles my co-workers have? I feel as though I have been set up for failure. I would love to hear any ideas and suggestions that you can pass on to me in terms of strategic teaching!
Read the Response
Math is supposed to be cut and dried, right? Do the work, find the one correct answer, and… you’re done.
We must retire this way of thinking. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics call for shifts in depth, focus, and rigor.
In my last Tch Blog post, I examined the first CCSS practice standard. Today I’d like to take a look at practice standard three, which calls on students in grades K-12 to “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.”
Here are three ways to bring argument construction and critique into your classroom, strategies that will lead to deeper understanding of key math concepts:
1. Be wrong more often.
Consider intentionally presenting incorrect solutions to students and asking them to analyze the errors. Ask questions such as: “What did I do wrong here?” or “How could I have come to this answer?” or “Does this answer make sense?” This can lead to rich discussion and deeper thinking.
When you do this, you’re teaching students to be mathematical critics. This widens their focus from only the answer to the process as well. In turn, it embeds the habit of paying close attention to work and learning from mistakes.
Just last weekend, the four of us made our way up the stairs following the familiar industrial smell of a still-new school to the room in the corner. It wasn’t the room I would always remember her in, but it’s where she’d landed the last few years, in this corner pocket of the second floor doing the work that never sounded like work to her at all. It was just who she was, who she is, who she’ll always be: Mrs. Brown of the fourth grade.
And on this warm spring Sunday with the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through the windows I saw our three generations: My mom, a 30-year veteran of the classroom, looking at her last weeks in the classroom before retirement. Me, the daughter who somehow always understood that to be like my mother was to find a classroom. And my three kids, each armed with a basket that they could fill with whatever they wanted from the cabinets and bookshelves and drawers.
Whenever I want to give special thanks to someone I find it so difficult to find that perfect card or gift. It’s so important to me that my sincere feelings come through—and the appreciation I feel is conveyed in a meaningful way.
Owen and Moley O Suilleabhain singing “What Kind of People”
That’s just how I felt when I started thinking about ways to thank all of you wonderful teachers during this upcoming National Teacher Appreciation Week. We want you to understand that we think that your work is incredibly important and worth high praise and regular celebration.
So, here’s what I came up with: while Teaching Channel is celebrating your hard work with a weeklong thank you giveaway (don’t miss it!), I’d like to offer all of you in the Tch community something you can watch and share with your colleagues time and again.
We Thank You
In October 2012, Pew Research Center published a report on teens’ use of libraries and reading habits. From Christian Science to NPR, media outlets were abuzz with the good news that today’s teens are not just playing video games and watching YouTube videos. But as Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia points out, we may have been misled.
He writes, “One message is that young people are reading ‘a lot.’ What constitutes ‘a lot’ is a judgment call, obviously, but in this study the data showed that 83% of 18-29 year-olds had a read a book sometime in the previous year. That strikes me as a low bar to be considered ‘a reader.'”